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Senate GOP aiming for vote this month on health legislation

17 June 2017, 07:31 | Guillermo Sutton

GOP Senators Expect Health Care Vote Soon — Even if They Can't Get to 51

Senate GOP aiming for vote this month on health legislation

GOP senators are now working to craft their own version of a healthcare bill after identifying various issues with the House's American Health Care Act.

And while Republicans sounded more optimistic about the bill's chances coming out of the lunch meeting than going into it, many said they still had a long ways to go.

Cassidy, a physician, has been a ringleader of sorts for Republican moderates skeptical of the GOP's partisan Obamacare repeal approach.

McConnell is working with hardly any margin for error.

A top White House aide said Monday that President Donald Trump's agenda has been slowed down by the congressional investigations into Russian meddling in the 2016 election. Susan Collins of ME, have explicitly said that they would like the GOP to pursue a comprehensive and bipartisan health care bill. "Whether we'll be able to get consensus on the whole, we'll see", said Sen.

Cornyn and Thune made their comments as they walked in and out of a late-afternoon meeting in McConnell's office that included other key GOP senators.

Yet some divisions emerged on Tuesday, as conservatives continue to be wary of refundable tax credits for people who buy insurance on their own, arguing they replace one entitlement with another, even as centrists try to make the assistance more generous. The Senate leader also put a "budget neutral" standard on tax reform, which the White House places secondary to achieving economic growth. Republicans must pass a bill by the end of the fiscal year in order to use the budget reconciliation process and also avoid a filibuster attempt by Democrats.

Some Republicans, including Sen.

Cassidy said the protections for people with pre-existing conditions were a big factor for him, as well as the slower rollback of the Medicaid expansion, which has helped states like his insure more people nearly entirely on the federal government's dime.

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Most importantly, staffers said the bill would allow states to waive ObamaCare rules requiring insurers to cover a range of healthcare services, known as essential health benefits.

Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO), a member of the leadership team, said the discussions were getting "progressively granular", while Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) refused the elaborate on the "component parts" of the proposals being looked at.

"All I can tell you is that it is a foolproof way of winning, and I'm not talking about what some people would say, but it is a foolproof way of winning the war with ISIS", he promised, declaring that his plan would achieve "total victory".

Senators and their staffers will present potential health care solutions to the Republican conference at a closed-door meeting on Tuesday. If the Senate GOP sticks to that plan, then the process of CBO scoring would likely take at least a week or more, leaving the Senate little time to consider the bill before the short recess for the Fourth of July that will occur between now and the start of the summer recess.

A growing number of insurers are leaving Obamacare markets or proposing steep premium increases next year, partly because of the law's weaknesses but also now because the Trump administration refuses to commit to steps to keep them operating, such as enforcing a penalty on people who don't get insurance and providing aid to low-income consumers.

Several weeks ago, McConnell said he'd have something soon. Last week, President Trump said he was pleased with work on the tax bill. But with a slim 52-48 majority, Republicans can afford to lose only a couple of GOP senators.

Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield said Tuesday that it's dropping individual exchange coverage in OH next year, citing a "lack of certainty of funding" for cost-sharing subsidies the government pays insurers to help reduce low-income Americans' health costs and "an increasing lack of overall predictability" in the market.

Even if Paul is not lost yet, other conservatives like Sens.

Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, one of the co-authors of the forthcoming bill, was a bit more candid about the mood of Republicans. The CBO has a bad track-record on scoring the budgetary impact on tax cuts, including the Reagan tax cuts that resulted in more revenue to the U.S. Treasury. "I don't like what we're going to have to do, but I'm supporting doing that".



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